Keeping a close(d) eye on cognitive load: the effect of eye contact and video-recording on memory recall in witness interviewing

Harris, Charlotte (2010) Keeping a close(d) eye on cognitive load: the effect of eye contact and video-recording on memory recall in witness interviewing. MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Witness interviewing is a vital stage in any investigation, therefore researching any limitations or difficulties that may arise is always of importance. The theory of cognitive load has been applied to many types of mental tasks, such as mental arithmetic or verbal tasks. However, the effect of cognitive load on the performance of witness recall in an interview has remained under researched. Furthermore, there are many ways of creating cognitive load. The present study measured the effect of cognitive load, utilising forced eye contact as a facilitator, and the effect of interview recording method on the participants’ memorial performance. There were two factors for this experiment: eye contact (yes/no) and recording method (audio/video). The experiment also used the Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire (VVIQ) to find out if visual imagery has a correlation with witness memory. Sixty-eight participants were split equally into the four conditions. They were then given ten minutes to complete an unrelated task, before being interviewed under one of the four conditions. It was found that those who were forced to maintain eye contact during their interview recalled significantly less correct information, however incorrect and confabulated responses were not affected. It was also found that being video recorded during the interview reduced correct recall rates. The VVIQ results were found to have no correlation with correct, incorrect, or confabulate recall rates. From the results it is clear that cognitive load can have a negative effect on recall rates suggesting that interviewers should ensure interview rooms are free from distraction and where possible gaze aversion should be encouraged to improve the amount of correct evidence gained from witness interviews.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2011 12:49
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:16

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